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Monday, 11 June 2007
More on the historian

Nancy Rosin, herself a worthy local historian (cf. her book on the Public Market), has circulated the petition text below, with a request that Rochesterians contact City Councilmembers a.s.a.p. The relevant emails:
Nancy also asks that you let her know you’ve sent an email (contact her at so a tally can be kept.



Mayor Duffy's 2007-08 budget proposes to cut the position of City Historian, meaning that for the first time since 1922 Rochester would be without this important service. The Office not only survived the Great Depression, but hired Dr. Blake McKelvey to assist Dr. Dexter Perkins in 1934. In place of a full-time historian, the City will instead contract part-time with the Rochester Historical Society. Many duties and public functions will not be addressed. Many multi-year projects will be abandoned or stalled.

Rochester has long touted its historical legacy. We have documented the extensive service of numerous citizens who have made outstanding contributions to the city's progress over the past 173 years. Dr. Blake McKelvey, who chronicled Rochester's history for over 60 years, achieved national recognition as a leading expert in urban history. Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, the Historian since 1987 (assistant from 1984), has conducted invaluable research on the Underground Railroad, ethnic history and the impact of the Erie Canal and the Genesee River on Rochester's development. She continues to work with our school students and teachers.

It is unthinkable that the City would consider outsourcing the Historian's function, and reducing by more than 50% the funding that has traditionally supported this function. With thousands of important documents that come into the city's possession annually, it is difficult to imagine how the current workload can be completed with a person performing as a consultant.

Mayor Duffy was faced with many difficult decisions, in finalizing his budget decisions. Even so, money was found to provide for more city-sponsored festivals, to expand services at Durand-Eastman Beach, to expand and enhance technology services, and to increase security in downtown. In order to maintain the City Historian as a full-time employee, rather than a part-time consultant, the city needs to find just $60,000.

We, the undersigned residents of the greater Rochester community, ask the City Council to allocate the necessary funding to restore this position to full-time status. Additionally we ask the Council to insure that this position will be protected in future budgets, as a recognition that the history of our city is valued and appreciated.

Posted by jackbradiganspula at 08:06 EDT
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